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Substance Abuse, Mental Health, and Criminal Justice Studies

​For too long, behavioral health care has been separated from general medical care.  Justice programs have been separated from civil society.  These divisions contribute to stigma, discrimination, and poor outcomes.   NORC’s Substance Abuse, Mental Health, and Criminal Justice Studies (SAMHCJ) department is dedicated to developing the science and the services that bring behavioral health and physical health back together.  Its surveys and research help reconnect people and programs in the justice system into communities.  NORC’s SAMHCJ department works to help create a healthier, safer and more just America.

SAMHCJ is a leading research and policy resource that applies sophisticated science and practical insights into national priorities such as health care reform, changing health care financing incentives, promoting healthy workplaces and communities, preventing intimate partner violence and trauma, and reducing jail and prison recidivism.   The department conducts scientifically sound studies and provides technical expertise to government leaders, businesses, and public health care purchasers; health plans; physicians, and other health care providers so that they can make informed choices concerning some of the most important mental health, substance use, and justice policy and practice issues of today. 

NORC’s Substance Abuse, Mental Health, and Criminal Justice Studies department applies deep technical expertise in large population survey design, quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis, evaluation, project technical assistance, and training systems.   The team draws on content expertise and practical experience in criminal justice, psychology, wellness and health promotion, epidemiology, statistics, law, information systems, and political science.

SAMHCJ has an extensive behavioral health and justice research portfolio, including:

  • Large-scale surveys of law enforcement and justice programs
  • Violence against women, bullying, and intimate partner violence
  • Effectiveness of substance abuse and mental health treatment and prevention programs,
  • Operation and management of criminal justice agencies,
  • Dynamics and characteristics of drug markets and their relationship to public health and public safety, and
  • Community health programs integrating primary health and behavioral health services for adults with serious mental illnesses, addictions, and other chronic illnesses.
  • Employee Assistance Programs and workplace wellness
  • Behavioral health performance metrics in hospitals, health plans, community health centers
  • Gambling policy and behavior
  • Public attitudes about crime, substance use, and mental health disorders

Every SAMHCJ project embodies NORC’s core mission:  to conduct high-quality social science research in the public interest.  SAMHCJ is dedicated to nurturing long-term collegial partnerships that reflect its commitment to improving health and justice outcomes through good science and good policy.

Areas of Expertise

  • Justice studies
    • Crime and Victimization Statistics
    • Juvenile Justice
    • Corrections, Re-entry programs
    • Sexual Violence and Human Trafficking
    • Restorative Justice
    • Dating Violence
    • Criminal Justice Agencies and Operations
  • Mental Health and Substance Use
    • Depression
    • Addiction
    • Behavioral Health Performance Metrics
    • Integrated Mental Health, Substance Use and Medical Care
    • Employment-based wellness, health promotion
    • Treatment effectiveness and quality improvement
    • Gambling

 Major Capabilities 

  • Data Collection and Management
    • Telephone, computer-assisted, web, and in person data collection
    • Survey design and survey management
    • Multi-mode survey research
    • Qualitative techniques
    • Focus group
  • Evaluation Research, demonstration program evaluation
  • Policy Analysis
  • Statistics and Sampling
  • Behavioral health skills training and technical assistance
  • Technical support

Special Capabilities

In addition to the core capabilities offered by NORC, SAMHCJ has expertise conducting studies on sensitive topics where confidentiality of heightened importance.   Projects requiring such skills include our surveys of correctional institutions, law enforcement agencies, former prisoners, and persons with serious mental illnesses and addictions.

Representative Projects

2010 National Survey of Prosecutors.

Since 1990, the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) has periodically sponsored the National Survey of Prosecutors (NSP) to collect data on the resources, policies, and practices of local chief prosecutors in state court systems. The information collected covers staffing and operations, innovative prosecution techniques, felony and misdemeanor caseloads, prosecution of computer-related crimes, juvenile offenses, and use of DNA evidence. More

2011 National Survey of Prosecutors. The U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) has periodically sponsored the National Survey of Prosecutors (NSP) to collect data on the resources, policies, and practices of local chief prosecutors in state court systems. From 1990 to 1996, the NSP collected data from a nationally representative sample of chief prosecutors that tried felony cases in State courts of general jurisdictions. Since 2001, BJS has alternated between a census data collection (2001, 2007) and a nationally representative sample data collection (2005, 2011). For 2011, a sample of 475 prosecutors will be asked to participate.  More

2012 Census of Law Enforcement Training Academies. NORC has been awarded a subcontract from the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) to assist with the conduct of the 2012 Census of Law Enforcement Training Academies (CLETA). Funded by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), the CLETA will generate national statistics about all state, regional, and local law enforcement training academies operating in the United States More

2012 Census of State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies (CSLLEA). To provide an accurate sampling frame for the Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics (LEMAS) program, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) periodically sponsors the Census of State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies (CSLLEA).  More

2012 National Survey of Indigent Defense Systems (NSIDS). Sponsored by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), the 2012 National Survey of Indigent Defense Systems (NSIDS) will gather data about the manner by which defense services are provided to indigent people accused of crime for which they may be jailed or imprisoned under states' laws in each county and state throughout the United States.  More

See all Substance Abuse, Mental Health, and Criminal Justice Studies projects
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